“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 1999, #09
Trampling the law Politics and human rights
Is our President legitimate? Freedom of expression
Ukrainian government pursues NOA Prosecutions of mass media go on Prohibition of discrimination
Medicinal or narcotic drugs? Diseases develop Social and economic rights
Nuclear waste buried in Sebastopol Children’s rights
Do not tease the wolf Women’s rights
On preventing torture in Ukraine Court decisions are not obeyed Ukraine in the Council of Europe: achievements, prospects, problems Interethnic relations
State report of Ukraine on prison conditions is considered unacceptable in Council of Europe Court practices
Dedovshchina and officers Self-government
A new human rights protection newspaper A new group for protection of servicemen. s rights is created in Kharkiv Civic society
Unemployment of graduates will have far-reaching consequences NGO activities
The struggle with terrorism according to mayor Luzhkov The war will be catastrophic for Russia Authorities pursue ecologists Urgent message Appeal of the Memorial directorate Point of view
Licensing for Internet providers is cancelled
Trampling the law
A similar situation is about the pre-election agitation. Article 33 of the law of Ukraine . On election of the President of Ukraine. adopted in March 1999 is violated and state TV and radio companies together with the press carry out active agitation for Kuchma, not only disregarding other candidates, but making public compromising materials against them. Numerous attempts are made to discredit other pretenders to the Presidential post in the eyes of the public and the wide circle of potential voters.
State officials of all ranks publicly express their loyalty to Leonid Kuchma, thus violating the above-mentioned law. For example, the newspaper of the Odessa city council . Odesskiy vestnik. published the interview with S.Grinevetskiy, the governor of the Odessa oblast. It was done on 29 May, when President Kuchma was not registered yet as a candidate. The governor declared that he would vote for Kuchma and expressed his neglect to other candidates.
On 17 July the same . Odesskiy vestnik. published an article by R. Bodelan, who had received power in the city not as a result of legal election, but according to the President. s decree. The article is titled . The man who wants good to us. . President Kuchma there is called . dear Leonid Danilovich. , . the most prepared man for the Presidency. , and so on, and so forth.
The pompous celebration of the . City Day. in Odessa, held in the beginning of September, also passed . under the sign of Kuchma. , who specially came to this routine enterprise, which was transformed to his pre-election show. At the same time the local authorities create obstacles for meetings of other candidates with voters in the city of Odessa and its rural districts.
A large number of such scandals occur every day. Sometimes the supporters of other candidates are persecuted or sacked from their jobs.
L. Kuchma made a timely statement that . any rumors on the serious personnel shuffling are absurd. . In his opinion, the Ukrainian oblasts are ruled by . expert teams capable to solve social and economic problems. . How these problems are solved we feel by the consecutive coils of the inflation. However, such a declaration during the election campaign is nothing but a direct bribe given to state officials.
Who believes that we shall have honest election?
Politics and human rights
Is our President legitimate?
Mr. Karmazin is sure that, according to the Constitution of Ukraine, the only carrier of power in out state is the people, who elected Leonid Kuchma as a President and gave him Presidential rights for five years since the moment of taking the oath by him. Since Leonid Kuchma took the oath on 19 July 1994, then his Presidential rights expired on 19 July 1999. Mr. Karmazin states that only the people have the right to continue L. Kuchma. s term for more then five years. So, for example, the rights of A. Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, were prolonged by the referendum. The Supreme Rada of Ukraine appointed the Presidential election for October 1999, but the Rada did not prolong his rights, since it had no right to do it.
It is difficult to predict how will the Supreme Court get out of this sophisticated collision, but any decision of the court will not add any leaves to the laurel wreath of the guarantor of the Constitution.
Freedom of expression
Ukrainian government pursues NOA
. The international Committee for journalists. protection is deeply worried by the continuing official persecution of NOA, the independent TV company which covers about 80% of TV viewers in Ukraine.
Since the bank account of NOA was frozen, the company had to terminate the creation of new programs about the Ukrainian Parliament.
The attack of your government on NOA is a part of the intimidation of mass media by the state, and it is directed against the opposition and independent mass media in Ukraine.
The International Committee for journalists. protection protests against the campaign of your government against NOA, which may cause the closure of this TV channel just before the Presidential election. We appeal to you to use your power in order to stop the political misuse of laws and legal acts by state officials against mass media .We appeal to you to guarantee the international acknowledged right of all journalists, including NOA and pressmen of Ukraine, to work without the interference of the state..
The letter was signed by Ann C. Cooper, the executive director of the Committee.
Prosecutions of mass media go on
In Chernivtsy Leonid Melnikov, the military prosecutor, handed the libel claim to protect his honor and dignity from the newspaper . Doba. (the compensation of Hr 7000) and from journalist Galina Tarasiuk (the compensation of Hr 3000). Lieutenant colonel Melnikov found that in the article . Deserter. he was insulted by the words: . Human motivation of deserting never interested courts martial and prosecutor. s offices. , as well as by the sentence: . In vein I tried to look into the eyes of the young lieutenant colonel . he never raised his eyes. .
In Kharkiv a libel case started since the newspaper . Advocate plus. blamed the officers of the Kharkiv Directorate of struggle with organized crime in numerous crimes. The case is considered by the local prosecutor. s office. Besides, the Directorate handed a claim for the compensation of moral damage by the newspaper and its founders (the compensation is Hr 600,000, Hr 300,000 to each founder) and by Sergey Ermakov, the author of the article . Action. (the compensation of Hr 50,000). The judge of the Dzerzinski district court, to guarantee the payment, arrested the property of the newspaper founders and the personal property of the author of the article.
The largest compensation . Hr 4,000,000 is demanded by the former Kharkivite and now a well-known businessman Vadim Rabinovich from the newspaper . Tovarishch. , the organ of the socialist party, because of the publication of the article . The Rabinovich phenomenon. . This article with some anti-Semitic allusions affirms that Rabinovich is one of the godfathers of Ukrainian criminals; besides he is actually blamed of the organization of a number of assassinations. One may understand Mr. Rabinovich, who wants to disprove such grave accusations, but the compensation is so large that the newspaper will go bankrupt, if it looses the process.
Prohibition of discrimination
Medicinal or narcotic drugs?
The purpose was obvious . to terminate or at least reduce misuse of these remedies. The consequences appeared to be rather unpleasant.
The doctors, who applied these remedies in the treatment of patients, were obliged to write out prescriptions on special blanks (so called . pink blanks. ). The number of such blanks handed to a doctor is small and each time, when a doctor writes out such prescription, he must get the permission of the administration. Often the offices of doctors and administrators are far away, and in any case a doctor must waste much time, which he could devote to treatment.
The new procedure appeared very troublesome to the sick, who need these remedies. Most of them suffer from insomnia, phobias, stresses, etc. Another group are those who apply phenobarbital and sibason for preventing cramps, especially epileptics. Each spasmodic fit can lead to irreversible changes of the cerebral brain, which lead, in the final count, to imbecility. Certainly, the above-mentioned drugs are not the only anti-spasmodic remedies, but the others are even more difficult to get.
At the black market the prices of tranquilizers soared, since they include the pay for risk: now the punishment for selling tranquilizers is such as for pushing narcotic drugs.
No serious statistical studies about the use of tranquilizers as narcotic drugs are available. According to the data obtained in early 80s, misuse of tranquilizers is infrequent.
How dangerous are tranquilizers? On the one hand, they may cause narcotic dependence, on the other hand, they are recommended for treatment in therapeutic and surgical practice, to say nothing about treatment of psychic cases.
The fact that patients, especially chronic patients, cannot get tranquilizers at the needed moment and in the needed quantity is, in my opinion, a much greater damage than the probability to become dependent of the drug. Besides, the patients seek and find tranquilizers at the black market, thus violating the Penal Code and running the risk to be drawn to the punishment.
In West European countries practically all remedies (including narcotic-drug-containing preparations) are sold by prescriptions signed by the family doctor. There the authority of a medical doctor is great, and the doctors are controlled, first of all, by medical associations, and not by the state.
On 1 September 1999 the Supreme Rada of Ukraine adopted the new law . On circulation of narcotic drugs and precursors. . Will the new law improve the present state depends on the instructions and list of preparations that will be issued by the Ministry of Health. We hope that the professionals from the Ministry of Health will be reasonable.
Day, No. 165
Social and economic rights
Nuclear waste buried in Sebastopol
Yet, lieutenant colonel of justice S.V. Dedov, the senior detective of especially important cases of the investigation department of the USS directorate in Sebastopol, took this decision only on the testimony of one former officer of the Russian Black Sea Navy, who was in charge of work with personnel. The Sebastopol human rights protection group finds the actions of the USS insufficient. That is why the group addressed admiral Komoyedov, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Black Sea Navy, with the request to confirm or to deny the information about burying radioactive waste in Sebastopol. Taking into account the extreme importance of the problem, the Sebastopol human rights protection group appeals to everyone interested to direct their requests to competent state officials, to begin journalist investigations, to carry out public discussions and information exchange.
Below we print our request to admiral Komoyedov.
of the Russian Black Sea Navy
Admiral Komoyedov V. P.
Copies: to mass media
Our organization has information, until now not confirmed by official sources, that in 1993 some military units of the Black Sea Navy dismounted nuclear warheads. Then, according to the same information, the radioactive waste was secretly buried in one of the mines within Sebastopol territory.
Any information concerning potential danger of radioactive waste for people and environment is of especial interest for the public. That is why we have to pay attention to any sources of information, regardless of their reliability. At the same time the data we know do not enable us to draw any definite conclusions at present.
In this connection I turn to you with the convincing request to make us acquainted with the official information on the problem. I dare to remind you that Article 50 of the Constitution of Ukraine guarantees every citizen the right to live in safe environment and the right to access to the information on the state of the environment: the same article prohibits making such information secret.
Roman Romanov, Executive director of the Sebastopol human rights protection group
Do not tease the wolf
In order to express his protest against blocking the direct translation of plenary meetings of the Supreme Rada by TV, MP Brodskiy demonstratively set down in the armchair of the President of Ukraine and said that he would not stand up until the TV transmissions were resumed. MP Kendzior retorted by the remark, which the press did not quote verbatim, but the general sense was: . You will sit into the President. s armchair in Tel-Aviv. . Brodskiy understood this remark as insulting and rushed at Kendzior, who took the defensive boxer. s stance. But the narrow passage between two rows of armchairs was blocked by the lady-deputy Olena Bondarenko. Then Brodskiy began to spit on Kendzior, who protected his face with forearms. V. Medvedchuk, a deputy speaker led Brodskiy away from the hall. Viktor Omelych, the head of the Supreme Rada Committee in charge of deputy ethics, suggested to deprive the both deputies of the right to attend plenary meetings for a week. However, people. s deputies deprived only Kendzior of this right. Only in the end of the working day after several attempts the same penalty was imposed on Brodskiy.
The cause of the incident is the absence of the real-time transmissions of the meetings of the Supreme Rada. President Kuchma and the Cabinet of Ministers explain the prohibition by the unwillingness of making the Parliamentary tribune the place of advertising candidates to the Presidency. Yet, the President is daily shown on TV screens.
In the entire world the work of the Parliament is permanently reflected by mass media including TV. Moreover, every citizen has the right to observe meetings of the Parliament from special galleries. Besides, every citizen has the access to Parliamentary materials: documents and projects. In Ukraine such access is very restricted. From this standpoint M. Brodskiy. s demonstration is quite well-grounded.
Yet, there is another cause of the incident. The armchair reserved for the President in the Supreme Rada is a sort of symbol of his power and statesmanship. When this lofty place is occupied not by the President, then a Ukrainian citizen may feel that his patriotic feelings are abused. The more so, that MP Brodskiy hinted that this lofty place is unneeded in the Parliament, so, maybe, the President is unneeded in the state at all. The reaction of a Ukrainian Kendzior to the fact that a Jew Brodskiy occupied the armchair was emotional, but not quite ungrounded: Ukrainians do not feel themselves yet masters in Ukraine, since they do not own the major part of the Ukrainian property. To make the things worse some MPs, including Brodskiy, do not use the state language on principle, thus demonstrating their neglect to the Ukrainian people and its state.
The newspaper . Kievskie vedomosti. , which is known by its scandalous anti-Ukrainian publications, on 24 September printed a very emotional article by Brodskiy, where he called Kendzior . a national-socialist. . Having stuck to the emotionally used word, Brodskiy adds to it a number of accusations to all Ukrainian (as to the culture) political world. Brodskiy completely denies that the . People. s Rukh. is a democratic organization and appeals to all the world to severe contacts with the parties . People. s Rukh of Ukraine. (led by Udovenko), . Reforms and order. , . Congress of Ukrainian nationalists. and . related structures. , unless they officially condemn . the anti-Semitic provocation by Yaroslav Kendzior and the actions aimed at his support. .
For the time being Kendzior did not contact the press, but on 23 September on TV he made a remark he was not an anti-Semite, which is proved by the fact that there are many Jews among his friends, and that Brodskiy. s provocation may result in a burst of anti-Jewish sentiments in Ukraine.
It should be noted that the parallel constructed by Brodskiy between the Ukrainian Kendzior and the Russian Makashov is also groundless. In Russia there exist many large organizations that support open anti-Semitism, whereas such organizations are practically absent in Ukraine. Ukrainian patriotic organizations, regarded by Brodskiy as anti-Semitic ones, are actually not anti-Semitic.
In any case the MP risks much by teasing the wolf. It would be better if they combattants begged each other. s pardon.
On preventing torture in Ukraine
After the collapse of the USSR in 1991 Ukraine inherited the law-enforcing agencies from the old Soviet system. These agencies retained customs and tasks of the old agencies. The Soviet law-enforcing agencies never paid attention to the problem of human rights. Nowadays new standards are introduced, which are based on the principle of superiority of the right. and oriented to human rights and democratic values. In order to work in the new regime the . birthmarks. of the past epoch must be erased. In particular, this is stimulated by international legal norms. The law of Ukraine . On coming to the effect of international treaties on the territory of Ukraine. adopted in 1992 and Article 9 of the Constitution of Ukraine define ratified international treaties as an inalienable part of the national legislation of Ukraine, which has to be executed by all means.
Among the international treaties Ukraine ratified (on 24 February 1987) the Convention against torture and other degrading and inhumane treatment and punishments and the European Convention against torture and other degrading and inhumane treatment and punishments, which was ratified on 5 May 1997 and came to the effect on 1 September 1997. Nonetheless, torture and degrading treatment are applied by law-enforcing agencies in cage-like cells of militia precincts, in detention blocks, in preliminary and common prisons. Another example of degrading treatment is the so-called dedovshchina, which became widely spread in the armed forces and is based on behavior patterns of the criminal world. In . Prava ludyny. , No. 1, 1996, an article was published with a very apt title: . Army or prison: where would you prefer to serve the term?.
In order to show how human rights are observed by our law-enforcers I shall describe several examples.
Example 1.. On 10 May in a super-secret way the administration of the Cherkassy preliminary prison moved the body of Sergey Ostapenko from the prison ward of the third town hospital to the mortuary. Sergey Ostapenko was tormented to death. Meeting with his relatives in the prison he told that he was brutally tormented. The torture applied to him, the so-called . monument. , consisted in hanging him by hands for hours without foot support. It resulted in stopping blood circulation in his arms and his arms became gangrenous.
Sergey. s mother told that she could not recognize her son. In particular, his hands were paralyzed and he had to be fed by other people. When her son was dying in the prison ward at the third town hospital, the convoy refused to take the needed medicine from his mother. Before the arrest Sergey Ostapenko was an athlete weighting 80 kg. After six weeks in the preliminary prison he lost half of his weight.
Ostapenko. s mother is convinced that her son was arrested with the purpose of concealing grave injuries which he got during the first interrogation. The idea was that in the preliminary prison his wounds would heal, and then he would be released. But the wounds did not heal. In order to save him his both arms had to be amputated. So it was decided that it would suit anyone if he died of some mysterious disease. (. Prava ludyny. , July).
This is one, but not a unique fact of the most brutal violation of the Constitutional right (see Article 28 of the Constitution: . Nobody may be subjected to torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and punishments. ). This right is especially often violated by special units for struggle with organized crime.
Example 2.About 4 p.m. a group of minors, age 13 . 15, was detained at the tram stop by druzhinniks(civilian assistants of militia). The assistants made a mistake: another group of young hooligans operated not far from this stop. The druzhinniksbrutally beat 14-year-old Mikhail, breaking him a rib and the head. Having seen that the boy fell unconscious they called a motor ambulance. The diagnosis was cerebral brain concussion. Later Mikhail was observed by psychiatrists (the book . Against torture. published by the Kharkiv Group for human rights protection, p. 161).
Example 3.Yuri Kazimirenko, a guard of the bank . Dendy. , was detained without reasons, when he executed his service duty. He left the cell of the Starokievskiy precinct of Kyiv with the cerebral brain concussion and emptied pockets. It happened in January 1997 (ibidem, p. 167).
One of the main reasons of such treatment is the wish of law-enforcers to get a confession from the alleged criminal. The rules are such that after getting a confession the case is considered to be closed, regardless of how the case will be considered at court. The law-enforcers are interested in . closing. as many cases, as possible.
Brutality of law-enforcers causes revenge on the side of the tortured and maltreated. . Crime fights crime, and no wonder that the criminal world also started a fight with bruisers from the DFOC. In summer of 1995 a detective was killed, presumably for having tormented an innocent man. Cherkassy militia even did not try to find the killers. Recently another detective was stabbed. He remained alive quite accidentally. (. Prava Ludyny. , July, 1999).
After the ratification of the Convention against torture by Ukraine the Committee against torture of the Council of Europe sends its inspectors to Ukraine. There were two visits of such inspectors: the first from 8 to 25 February 1998 to Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Kyiv, where the inspectors attended 23 penitentiaries, including the alcoholic treatment colony and the psycho-neurological dispensary. The second visit was made in July 1999 to the Central Directorate of fight with organized crime and some penitentiaries in Kyiv and Kharkiv. The results of these inspections have not been published yet, because, according to the accepted routine, the state must agree with such publication.
The Committee against torture and degrading treatment has not yet directed its inspectors to the army, where dedovshchina reigns and degrading treatment is a routine.
Example 4.. If deds(older soldiers) order a young soldier to take the pose of . standing moose. , it means that the young soldier must stand covering his forehead with palms. The dedsbeat on the palms with fists. A more cruel punishment was the . drinking moose. . Here the punished had to bend, and he was beaten with knees. After every blow the punished had to say . Thank you. .. (. Kievskiye vedomosti. , 31 July, 1999)
Untypically, the described case got into court, and the guilty went to the disciplinary battalion.
Unfortunately, as practice shows, the available mechanisms of the protection of citizens are insufficient. The post of the ombudsman, introduced since April 1998, has not become yet that body which can interfere into the conflict between an individual and the state. To protect citizens from violence on the side of other citizens or the state it is very urgent to create and activate new efficient mechanisms including the judicial. Information policy that includes public description and denunciation of torture and degrading treatment, as well as instruction about how to fight with torture by legal methods, is very important. We must form a healthy civil society built on humane values. Another important lever is international instruments for human rights protection. Among them the most important roles are played by the European Court of human rights and the Committee against torture of the Council of Europe.
Court decisions are not obeyed
Disobedience of court decisions becomes more and more serious problem of our jurisdiction. This problem must be solved by all the branches of power, together with mass media, for without fulfillment of court decisions the third power actually does not exist.
Ukraine in the Council of Europe: achievements, prospects, problems
The Council of Europe became for Ukraine an actual indicator of the development of democratic processes, a criterion of the concordance of her internal human rights protection practices to the international legal standards.
While assessing the results of joining the Council of Europe, one must pay attention to numerous factors, both objective and subjective, that resulted in today. s, rather critical, situation, concerning the fulfillment by Ukraine her obligations taken when entering the Council of Europe. The process of joining started during the first year of the existence of Ukraine as a sovereign state . the application for joining the Council of Europe was handed in by Ukraine on 14 July 1992. On 16 September 1992 delegates from the Supreme Rada of Ukraine got the status of . specially invited. to the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe.
On 27 July 1995 Ukraine sent a letter signed by Leonid Kuchma, the President of Ukraine, Oleksandr Moroz, the speaker of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine, and Evhen Marchuk, the Prime-Minister of Ukraine. In particular, this letter read: . Constitutional, legislative and economic reforms that are being realized in Ukraine are aimed at constructing a state system which would completely agree with the European standards, which would guarantee human rights and freedoms, in particular, the demands of the European Convention on human rights. .
At the same time the State Interagency Commission in charge of joining the Council of Europe prepared answers to the questions of the Parliament Assembly. On the base of these answers the obligations of Ukraine on entering the Council of Europe were formulated.
The reports on accepting Ukraine by the Council of Europe were made by three lawyers: Ms. Severinsen (Denmark), Mr. Nemet (Hungary) and Mr. Masseret (France). Ms. Severinsen and Mr. Kelam (Estonia) entered the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe, which had to observe how Ukraine was fulfilling her obligations. The Committee also kept reminding Ukraine about the necessity to fulfil the taken obligations. Since 9 November 1995 (which is the date of joining the Council of Europe) our state accepted 43 documents of the Council of Europe, 29 of which are ratified and 14 are signed and have juridical force (the list of ratified and signed documents see at Appendices 1 and 2).
One of the doubtless achievements, which single out Ukraine among other state-members, is the fact that the Constitution of Ukraine (adopted on 28 June 1996) includes almost all basic statements of the European Convention on human rights (ECHR). Part II of the Constitution . Rights, freedoms and duties of man and citizen. stipulates the rights guaranteed to citizens by the state. These rights correlate with articles of the ECHR, as seen from the following table.
|Constitution of Ukraine||ECHR|
|Article No. 27||Article No. 2|
|30, 31, 32||8|
11 September 1997 is an important date for Ukraine: on this day Mr. E. Perelygin, the charge daffaires of Ukraine at the Council of Europe, handed D. Tarsisz, the General Secretary of the Council of Europe, the document on the ratification of the ECHR by Ukraine. According to Article 66 of the Convention, this document came into effect for Ukraine on this date.
The most complicated obligation among those taken by Ukraine is the abolition of the death penalty. Resolution 1112 (1997) of the Parliament Assembly remarked, as a serious violation of the obligations taken, on the absence of the moratorium on the execution of death penalties in Ukraine and on the continuation of executions during 1996. As a result of the pressure on the side of the Council of Europe, the executions in Ukraine were terminated without any juridical basis. However, the final legislative abolishment of the death penalty has not been achieved yet and continues to be an obstacle in the relations between Ukraine and the Council of Europe. During the January and June sessions of the Parliament Assembly the non-fulfillment of her obligations by Ukraine were considered. The results were summed up in Resolution No. 1179 (1999) of the Parliament Assembly. This document remarked that Ukraine has important achievements in solving interethnic conflicts by peaceful means, in avoiding large-scale social unrest, which resulted in making Ukraine a stabilizing factor in the region. As other achievements of Ukraine the document remarked the adoption of the Constitution, signing important documents issued by the Council of Europe, the adoption of the law on Presidential elections and adoption of the Constitution of the Crimean republic.
At the same time the document notes a number of drawbacks, more general of which are the absence of distinction between judicial, legislative and executive branches of power, attempts to control the situation and keep the political power, sometimes by illegal methods, on the side of the executive power, growth of corruption and crime, too slow process of legislative reforms, application of torture and degrading treatment to the detained, the state control over mass media. Sections 8 and 13 of this document again insist on the necessity to set the de jure moratorium on the execution of death penalties in Ukraine.
In Section 14 the document reproaches Ukrainian executive power and the Supreme Rada of Ukraine, keeping them responsible for the non-adoption of five important documents:
frame document on the policy of Ukraine concerning human rights protection;
frame document on the legal and judicial reforms;
new Penal and Penal-Procedural Codes;
new Civil and Civil-Procedural Codes;
new law on political parties (the latter demand is contained in Subsection V of Section 12 of Conclusion No. 190 of the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe).
In June 1999 the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) again considered the fulfillment of the obligations taken by Ukraine. The results were summed up in Recommendation No. 1416 PACE, which pointed out that in the fulfillment of the main problems (listed in Resolution No. 1179 (1999) PACE), up to 20 May 1999, . no important progress has been achieved. . At the same time the document presented the steps which had been made by Ukraine in April 1999. Then the Supreme Rada adopted in the first reading the draft of the law . On the judicial system. . On 14 June 1999 the Constitutional court postponed the consideration of the question about non-Constitutional character of the death penalty . the question raised by MPs on the initiative of the Permanent Delegation of Ukraine in the Council of Europe. On 17 June 1999 the Supreme Rada of Ukraine adopted the frame document on the legislative policy concerning the human rights protection in Ukraine.
The final conclusion was the statement about . The achievement of certain progress on the way of fulfilling the obligations by Ukraine. . The Parliament Assembly recommended the Committee of Ministers to enforce the ADACS program for Ukraine, which is a program of measures aimed at the development and consolidation of democratic stability.
At the same time the Council of Europe suggested the new state-members other programs, which involve expert, informative, financial and other kinds of aid from the Council of Europe. So, beside the cooperation programs . Demosphen. , . Femida. , . LODE. and . Demo-right. , Ukraine was recommended to implement three yearly programs (. Aiding development and consolidation of democratic security. Cooperation with and aid to the countries of Middle and Eastern Europe. Programs for 1996 . 97 . 98. ). Among the main directions of these programs is the aid in legal, legislative, judicial, law-enforcing spheres and reformation of local self-rules. the details of the above-listed programs and reports on their fulfillment are published in the issues of the bulletin of the Ukrainian Information and Documentation Centre of the Council of Europe.
of the Council of Europe Conventions ratified by Ukraine(by 20 July 1999)
001 The Statute of the Council of Europe (decision of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine of 31 October 1995 about joining the Council of Europe, 9 November 1995 . instrument of the ratification was handed to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe).
002 General Agreement on privileges and immunities of the Council of Europe and the Protocol to the General Agreement on privileges and immunities of the Council of Europe (the law of Ukraine on joining . 1 October 1996, coming to the effect for Ukraine . 6 November 1996).
005 European Convention on human rights, 1950 (signed on 9 November 1995, ratified on 17 July 1997, came to the effect for Ukraine on 11 September 1997).
009 Protocol 1 to the European Convention on human rights (signed on 9 November 1995, ratified on 17 July 1997, came to the effect for Ukraine on 11 September 1997).
010 Protocol to the General Agreement on privileges and immunities of the Council of Europe, 1952 (ratified on 6 November 1996).
018 European Cultural Convention (the Supreme Rada of Ukraine ruled to join the Convention on 24 February 1994, ratified on 13 June 1994).
024 European Convention on the extradition of criminals, 1957 (the Supreme Rada of Ukraine ruled to join the Convention on 22 September 1995, handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 11 March 1998, came to the effect for Ukraine on 9 June 1998).
030 European Convention on the mutual aid in criminal cases, 1959 (the Supreme Rada of Ukraine ruled to join the Convention on 22 September 1995, signed on 30 May 1997, handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 11 March 1998, came to the effect for Ukraine on 9 June 1998).
044 Protocol 2 to the European Convention on human rights (signed on 9 November 1995, ratified on 17 July 1997, came to the effect for Ukraine on 11 September 1997).
045 Protocol 3 to the European Convention on human rights (signed on 9 November 1995, ratified on 17 July 1997, came to the effect for Ukraine on 11 September 1997).
046 Protocol 4 to the European Convention on human rights (signed on 9 November 1995, ratified on 17 July 1997, came to the effect for Ukraine on 11 September 1997).
051 European Convention on observation of conditionally sentenced or conditionally released culprits, 1964 (the Supreme Rada of Ukraine ruled to join the Convention on 22 September 1995, handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 28 September 1995).
055 Protocol 5 to the European Convention on human rights (signed on 9 November 1995, ratified on 17 July 1997, came to the effect for Ukraine on 11 September 1997).
062 European Convention on information concerning foreign legislation, 1968 (the Supreme Rada of Ukraine ruled to join the Convention on 14 July 1993, ratified on 13 June 1994).
073 European Convention on transferring criminal cases, 1972 (the Supreme Rada of Ukraine ruled to join the Convention on 22 September 1995, handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 28 September 1995).
086 Additional Protocol to the European Convention on extradition of criminals, 1975 (handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 11 March 1998, came to the effect for Ukraine on 9 June 1998).
097 Additional Protocol to the European Convention on information concerning foreign legislation, 1978 (the Supreme Rada of Ukraine ruled to join the Convention on 14 July 1993, handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 13 June 1994).
098 Second additional Protocol to the European Convention on extradition of criminals, 1978 (handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 11 March 1998, came to the effect for Ukraine on 9 June 1998).
099 Additional Protocol to the European Convention on transferring criminal cases, 1978 (handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 11 March 1998, came to the effect for Ukraine on 9 June 1998).
104 Convention on the protection of wild flora, fauna and natural environments in Europe (5 January 1999).
106 European Convention on main principles of trans-frontier cooperation between territorial communities of power bodies, 1980 (the Supreme Rada of Ukraine ruled to join the Convention on 14 July 1993, handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 21 September 1993).
112 European Convention on extradition of convicted person, 1983 (the Supreme Rada of Ukraine ruled to join the Convention on 22 September 1995, handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 28 September 1995).
117 Protocol 7 to the European Convention on human rights (signed on 19 December 1996, ratified on 17 July 1997, came to the effect for Ukraine on 11 September 1997).
118 Protocol 8 to the European Convention on human rights (signed on 9 November 1995, ratified on 17 July 1997, came to the effect for Ukraine on 11 September 1997).
122 European Charter on local self-rule, 1985(signed on 6 November 1996, handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 11 September 1997).
126 European Convention against torture and inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment, 1987 (signed on 2 May 1996, the law of Ukraine adopted on joining the Convention on 24 January 1997, handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 5 May 1997).
141 Convention on laundering, search, arrest and confiscation of money earned in a criminal way, 1990 (signed on 30 - 31 May 1997, the law of Ukraine adopted on joining the Convention on 15 September 1995, handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 26 January 1998, came to the effect for Ukraine on 1 May 1998).
155 Protocol 11 to the European Convention on human rights (signed on 9 November 1995, ratified on 17 July 1997, came to the effect for Ukraine on 11 September 1997).
157 Frame Convention on the protection of national minorities (signed on 15 September 1995, handing the ratification instrument to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe on 26 January 1998, came to the effect for Ukraine on 1 May 1998).
of the Council of Europe Conventions signed by Ukraine(by 20 July 1999)
035 European Social Charter (signed on 2 May 1996).
114 Protocol 6 to the European Convention on human rights concerning the abolition of the death penalty (signed on 5 May 1997).
European Convention on trans-frontier television (signed on 14 January 1996).
135 Anti-doping Convention (signed on 2 July 1998).
143 European Convention on the protection of archeological inheritance (reconsidered version signed on 2 July 1998).
148 European Charter on regional languages and languages of minorities (signed on 2 May 1996).
151 Protocol 1 to the European Convention against torture and inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment (signed on 26 January 1998).
152 Protocol 2 to the European Convention against torture and inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment (signed on 26 January 1998).
160 European Convention on realization of children. s rights (signed on 7 May 1999).
162 Protocol 6 to the General Agreement on privileges and immunities of the Council of Europe (signed on 3 November 1998).
163 European Social Charter (reconsidered version signed on 7 May 1999).
165 Convention on nostrification of qualifications in higher education in the European region (signed on 11 April 1997).
169 Protocol 2 to the European Convention on main principles of trans-frontier cooperation between territorial communities of power bodies (signed on 3 November 1998).
173 Convention on the criminal right concerning corruption (signed on 27 January 1999).
State report of Ukraine on prison conditions is considered unacceptable in Council of Europe
The Committee pointed out that the overcrowdedness of penitentiaries, anti-sanitary conditions, epidemics of TB and skin diseases, mass dystrophy of Ukrainian convicts are unacceptable. As Nina Karpachova said, the report which had been prepared secretly, considerably disagreed with the observations of the Committee inspectors, who attended Ukrainian penitentiaries in 1998. Ukraine got recommendations how to correct the situation. If the recommendations are not fulfilled, the observations of the inspectors will be published.
On 11 September two years have passed since the European Convention on protection of rights and main freedoms of man have come into effect in Ukraine. During this time 1132 complaints came to the European Court from Ukraine. Many of them concern the conditions of upkeep of convicts condemned to death. The ombudsperson said, in particular, that 2 complaints came from the preliminary prison of Ivano-Frankivsk, 1 from Khmelnitskiy prison, 1 from Zaporozhye and 2 from Simferopol.
Dedovshchina and officers
This phenomenon appeared immediately after WW2, when some servicemen, having passed the war, having wounds and awards, were not demobbed after the war. Some of them served 6 . 8 years and they were called . deds. (. granddads. ). At the same time greenhorn recruits came to the army. All the routine work was carried out by them, while the . deds. relaxed. At that time such a distribution of work did not look unfair.
To understand in detail how this phenomenon evolved in time is difficult now, but this system flourished and developed later on and passed without changes from the Soviet army to the armies of the CIS countries. Yet, in the beginning dedovshchina was revealed in a rather mild forms and consisted of fulfilling the work of the . deds. by greenhorns. In the late 60s the situation with younger soldiers became much worse.
The result was massive and systematic violation of elementary human rights of first-year soldiers, as well as the abrupt deterioration of the quality of the army.
At present an opinion reigns that to get rid of dedovshchina the professional army must be created. However, this can be realized in distant future, if ever. The problem is what to do now.
We would like to draw attention to the most important questions which must be answered in investigating any criminal situation: who is guilty and who benefits from the crime?
We believe that the main cause of dedovshchina is not a . poor material provision. , not a . recruiting of criminal elements. , not a . general situation in the society. . the reasons to which military prosecutors and sociologists like to refer. The main cause lies in the consciousness and practices of army officers. The latter facilitate their life and duties, transferring the organization work in sections and platoons onto 20-year-old . deds. . Actually the results are asked from . deds. , disregarding the . pedagogical methods. of training first-year soldiers.
Is it possible to do anything without creating the professional army? There are precedents which permit to hope that it can be done. In the Soviet times the situation in the pre-Carpathian commandment was standard: soldiers of the first year of service were beaten and undernourished, as a result of which desertion and suicides were rather frequent. In summer 1982 Order No. 0100 of the Minister of Defense of the USSR was issued. This order was aimed at fighting with dedovshchina. The commandment undertook the following measures:
strengthening of special training at the expense of non-army works;
resuming criminal punishment for dedovshchina (division and army prosecutors were permitted to start several show trials);
sentry service was made to agree with the Articles of War, and it was forbidden to stay sentinel for more than 24 hours;
development, though it sounds unlikely and comically, of the systematic cultural work among servicemen of the both years of service, attracting girls from vocation schools; concerts and chess tournaments were held, the procedure of meeting relatives was made more liberal.
All this resulted in terminating dedovshchina after the demobilization of . deds. within two months. Certainly, first-year soldiers performed almost all heavy work, but cruel and degrading treatment almost disappeared.
The majority of first-year soldiers suffer mostly from cruel and degrading treatment. Nonetheless, having passed to the second year, almost all of them will degrade and torment greenhorns, thus continuing dedovshchina for new generations. The analyzed precedent enables us to hope that the situation can be drastically improved before the creation of the professional army. To this end, it is necessary to develop investigations both by the civilians and the military. Unfortunately, military sociologists and lawyers, who have accumulated immense experience, are not free in presenting their opinions. Moreover, they often present distorted facts and opinions.
Dedovshchina is decreased when the army has numerous contacts with the civilian community. This is convincingly confirmed by the fact that the most horrible crimes are performed in the military units isolated from the civil life, such as remote storehouses and separate small units situated in unpopulated areas. The intense interaction of army and civil structures will cause fast progress in the protection of rights and human dignity of first-year soldiers. Every side will benefit. Recruiting commissions will not have to catch deserters, young men will not so frequently dodge the army, because many of them like to go to the army to become . manly men. , but they are not eager to measure the barrack with the matchbox or jump on a chair between two rows of . deds. who urge them with belts.
The main obstacle for the suggested transformations is a prejudice that dedovshchina is the main support of discipline in the army. How widely is this prejudice spread, one can see from the following little fact. On 28 . 29 May 1999 a session of the Consulting Committee on army service was held and a deputy of the Russian Duma, a professor, also said that dedovshchina is needed for discipline.
Each generation passes through a meat grinder of dedovshchina, through the reality without the right. How can we expect political activity from men who took from the army the conviction that any apeal to law is vain? Such outlook excludes discussing political systems, the more so . their improvement. Does the impunity of the . deds. find its continuation in the theft and bribe-taking of our officials?
A new human rights protection newspaper
The themes of the published materials concern the violation of social and citizen rights of the region, description of concrete cases and consultations.
The editor-in-chief is Oleksandr Yurchenko, the head of the district organization for human rights protection, a deputy of the district rada.
The very fact of the attempt to publish such a newspaper under the existing economic conditions deserves professional respect.
The editorial board of . Prava ludyny. wished success to the colleagues, long and fruitful work to the newspaper.
A new group for protection of servicemen. s rights is created in Kharkiv
The activists of the Kharkiv Union of soldiers. mothers partly joined this group. V. Dzereviaga has been elected the head of this group. The group intends not only to aid citizens in concrete cases connected with the violation of rights . it will monitor and analyze abuses of rights in the army and publish analytic materials. The main directions of the activities of the new organization are as follows:
legal counseling of servicemen, recruits and members of their families;
monitoring and analysis of abuses of human rights in the armed forces;
publication of facts and analytic materials concerning the above-listed questions.
Details can be learned from Kriukova M.O., the secretary of the group, telephone: (0572) 143-171.
Unemployment of graduates will have far-reaching consequences
Nowadays massive staff reductions are going on in hospitals and similar organizations, and every administrator tries his best to retain high-skilled and experienced doctors, so the chances of the graduates to find a job are negligible, and, at best, the graduates begin to work not according to their education. Thus, the money spent for their education (by the state or by their parents) are wasted. Some time will pass, the natural exchange of generations will have to be made, and some branches will be left without specialists. Especially hard situation will occur in medicine, for this is an activity where the process of learning from older colleagues and accumulating experience must be permanent.
It seems that in our attempts to have education, culture and medicine gratis (which is impossible), we lost the capability to plan how many and which professionals are needed by the society.
In this difficult situation the Ministry of Education tries to dodge the problem. As always, bureaucrats, responsible for the problem, found a way out. Now in many higher schools the administration demands the future graduates to get the document from any organization that it agrees to hire the student according to his profession, otherwise they threaten the student not to give him the certificate of the professional education. By hook or crook such certificate is got or bought. The described situation happened last year in Kharkiv Academy of Culture. The administration was satisfied, since they justified the plan of enlisting students and retained jobs of teachers. The Ministry of Education confirmed that it was necessary and capable to provide Ukraine with needed professionals. Councils of rectors, councils in charge of various professions and so on functioned, continuing to destroy our system of higher education, which is far from being the worst in the world.
Meanwhile, the graduates, sometimes very able and well . educated, join the army of jobless. Some become salesmen, some become hairdressers, some leave Ukraine and work abroad quite successfully.
In some time out government will beg humanitarian aid from well-developed countries, because Ukraine will have difficulties with qualified personnel. If we had been capable to shape the personnel now, it would have been much easier in the future.
The struggle with terrorism according to mayor Luzhkov
A war is raging in Russia. In Moscow and Volgodonsk blocks of flats were exploded adding hundreds of innocent victims to scores of thousands killed in Chechnya and Dagestan. We go to bed in fear for our children, we expect efficient actions on the side of our authorities and law-enforcing bodies, we demand protection.
What do the Moscow authorities to counteract terrorists? Recently scores of people, who suffered from the struggle with terrorism in Luzhkov. s way, have come to our organization or complained by telephone. The people, who address us, are our usual charges, forced migrants.
Since 1990 the flow of the refugees from Baku has started, since 1992 . those from Sukhumi, since 1995 . those from Grozny. Now they got under the roller of the campaign because they have no propiska(resident permit) in Moscow. They have no propiska, because the authorities were refusing to give them this propiskacontrary to the law. Militia now checks all such people, who have no propiskaor have a temporary propiska, referring to a document which is not published. Militia has got the right to annul a propiska, if they consider that the happy owner of the propiska. has no reason for staying in Moscow. or having found that someone lives in the place not indicated in his propiska. Surely, all these rules are applied to Caucasians (which in Russian means not white, but of the Caucasus origin).
Militiamen refer to the mayor. s order of 13 September. The order is unknown, it was not sent even to MP I.Grunov, who requested the text. Judging by the factual actions, this order prescribes to find the Caucasians, to drive them from Moscow and to free their living accommodations. Here are three examples.
In subway building hostel, at 2 Sholokhov street, refugees from Baku have been living for many years. Each of them has a refugee. s status and a registration. Two days ago their registration certificates were annulled.
Malika Tokayeva, the former employee of the Ministry of Finances in Chechnya, has been living in Moscow since 1995. She has a state job in Moscow and works as a volunteer in our organization. Malika with her sister and brother has just returned from Nalchik, where they buried their father. Malika. s registration term has expired, and she had no time to prolong it. On 11 September all the three were fined and two days later were detained by militiamen from the Chertanovo precinct. Since that day they are kept somewhere. We tried to get information about their whereabouts, but militia sends us from one precinct to another. We manage to learn that the Tokayevs were tried in the Chertanovo court. They got administrative arrest for 5 days, but we could not learn, where they are kept.
Perdos Bokova, a mother of ten children, came to Moscow from Ingushetiya: she brought her boy suffering of children cerebral palsy to the children hospital No. 18. Her children. s father Salekh Bokov is a permanent resident of Moscow, living in a one-room flat in Moscow with his second wife. He placed Perdos with all the children into his friend. s apartment. Salekh intended to look after the children, while his first wife with the sick child would stay in the hospital. The boy had to be accepted to the hospital on 15 September. Yet, in the morning of 15 September militiamen from Liubertsy-2 precinct came to the flat, where the children stayed, fined mother, took her passport and demanded to leave the flat at once. During two days members of our organization negotiated with the precinct, persuading them to give back the passport and to enable the woman to use the precious permit to the Moscow hospital. The negotiations were long and painful, they included phones to high officials and resulted in many promises, but the head of the precinct Vladimir Panin demanded to empty the flat. . The law . it is me today. , he said, and it seems to be right. By the end of 15 September Salekh scattered his numerous children to homes of his friends and emptied the flat. An official from the Ministry of Interior again promised that the passport would be returned, but on 16 September militia refused to do it.
There are many similar cases. On 16 September in the TV evening news they said that already 20 thousand of non-registered persons were found in Moscow. Certainly, militia has no time and forces to fight crime. And what can be done with the captured? They cannot be dumped to the city rubbish heap, as handicapped tramps in August. The refugees from Baku have no place to return to, as well as the Chechens, who worked for Russia under Zavgayev.
But the Moscow authorities do not think. Why to catch criminals, if to catch Caucasians is a much more fruitful business? To the tragedy of the explosions they add more human grief.
The war will be catastrophic for Russia
The territory of Dagestan was cleaned from extremist gangs. For the first time in many years our soldiers rightly felt themselves as liberators. In this battle they were really supported by the absolute majority of the population of Dagestan and of all Russian federation.
However, many politicians and generals want to use the victory for starting a new war in Chechnya, for the revenge after the debacle in 1996. They hope that the fear, caused by acts of terror in Russian towns, will ensure them a support of the society. We are sure that the criminal activities of the extremists, which invaded Dagestan, must be stopped in a most stringent way. Under these conditions the bombardment of the terrorist bases in Chechnya is justified, but we mean the bases and we mean the terrorists. Meanwhile we see that towns and villages are bombed and, as it already had been in 1994, the number of civilian victims is growing. Maybe, it is not premeditated and just caused by the inability of our aviation and artillery to shoot straight. The fact, when the aviation tried to throw mines in Dagestan, but missed Dagestan and hit Georgia, proved it quite convincingly.
The extermination of the peaceful population may not be justified. Besides, the bombardments of residential quarters in Chechnya generate a new wave of hate to Russian troops and Russia, thus strengthening the support of the terrorists.
The new large-scale ground operation in Chechnya, where the local inhabitants will never support the federal army, will certainly lead to plentiful losses both of the civil population and the servicemen of the federal army. That will be a war of extermination, the terror and shame expecting Russia at such turn of events will be catastrophic for Russia.
We demand the instant termination of aviation and artillery bombardments of inhabited areas in Chechnya. We appeal to our military to distinguish between extremist units and those inhabitants, which support the Chechen President, who is recognized by the Russian government.
We demand that the government of Russia would terminate wide-scale ground operations in Chechnya.
We think it necessary to introduce the state of emergency in all the territories adjoining Chechnya, to construct defending installations and organize a frontier infrastructure.
We appeal to powers of all levels to be reticent and to refrain from any actions provoking interethnic clashes.
30 September 1999
Authorities pursue ecologists
Vladimir Sliviak is the coordinator of the antinuclear campaign carried out by the Social-Ecological Union, the largest union of ecologists in Eurasia awarded by the UNO for outstanding successes. He began his public activities in 1989, organized dozens of campaigns for the protection of nature in various regions of Russia and Europe. He is the author of many articles on the environment protection and on non-violation as the only reasonable form of protest. Besides, Mr. Sliviak is a member of the working group for creation of the law on the radioactive safety. He is also a member of the international ecological group . Ecozashchita. (. Environment protection. ) and the editor of the Russian department of the World Information Service on energy production. From this list of positions it is clearly seen that environment-polluting authorities may have a grudge against him.
One of the four detectives named himself as senior lieutenant Kosterkov from the 6 thdepartment of the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department (the department fights with terrorism). Mr. Sliviak was detained near his house and, without explanations, was thrown to the militia car. His captors threatened to beat him, if Mr. Sliviak refuses to answer their questions. When Kosterkov found that Sliviak gave a false answer, he produced from his pocket a package with marijuana and promised . to find this package in Sliviak. s bag, for which he will get a three-year term in prison. . Kosterkov kept repeating that ecological organizations are directly connected with the terrorists, who organized the explosion on the Manezh square on 31 August.
Sliviak insisted to be brought to the militia precinct, but his demand was ignored. After one hour and a half of the interrogation within the car Mr. Sliviak was pushed out, but his identification documents were not returned to him. When he asked for his documents, the detectives drove away. One of them cried from the window that Sliviak . may regard himself arrested. .
This information, obtained from the Internet (http://yabloko.ru/Forums/Main/posts/ 39570.html), is obliquely confirmed from other sources. I hope that the horrible tragedy in Moscow will not prevent Moscow human rights protection activists to check the following news:
The order to detain persons having no propiska(residence permit) in Moscow or the Moscow oblast will be signed today by the oblast governor Anatoliy Tiazhlov. To check their identification people will be brought to specially prepared places, for example, to the former pioneer camps. Allegedly, Mr. Tiazhlov said it on Monday at the meeting of the oblast government.
Appeal of the Memorial directorate
On 17 September 1939 the so-called . liberation of the West Ukraine and West Byelorussia by the Red Army. was begun.
There is no doubt about the moral, juridical and political assessment of this event: the Soviet Union became the accomplice to the nazi aggression against Poland and the actual Hitler. s ally at the first stage of WW2.
The invasion of 17 September opened a consecutive tragic chapter in Polish . Russian relations. The invasion was followed by the massive terror on the captured territories, by the Katyn massacre of Polish officers, by a shameful inaction of the Soviet troops on the Wisla during the Warsaw uprising of 1944, by the coercive sovietizationof Poland. Poles, as other peoples driven to the socialist camp, experienced all terrors of the totalitarian communist regime. Even those repressions, which were performed by the Polish security service, were ascribed by the Polish public opinion to Moscow.
The load of the past is still pressing on the relations between Russia and Poland, and this load does not become lighter while the government of Russia . the successor of the Soviet Union . keeps silent. We are sure that it is necessary to give a complete assessment of the events of 1939 and their consequences, it is necessary to call a crime a crime. This also concerns the governments of Ukraine and Belarus.Meanwhile the Ukrainian authorities decided to celebrate 17 September as the . 60 thanniversary of the reunion of the Ukrainian people. . The celebration of this day as a positive historical event is, in our opinion, not politically correct with respect both to Poland and to citizens of their own country. People in West Ukraine remember very well how much grief was caused and how much blood was shed by the . liberators. . Many Ukrainians in the West (and in the East, too) regard 17 September as a tragic date.
The absence of the official position concerning . the liberation. on the side of Russia weakens the hopes to improve relations with Poland and other victims of the Soviet aggression in 1939 . 1940 and disorients the Russian public. So, in most textbooks on the newest history the . liberation. is described, at best, in a very fuzzy way; other textbooks and related materials treat the . liberation. according to the good old Stalin approach.
Possibly, the silence of the Russian government and prominent political leaders is explained by their unwillingness to sprinkle salt on the wounds. They are mistaken, because this silence is one of the important reasons of the present watchfulness of the USSR. s former satellites.
As to the Russian public, it must be said that the important part of it is . alas! . indifferent to this problem, regarding it as the . cut-off. past. Many Russian citizens do not understand this problem entirely and ask in a puzzled way: . Why do not they like us?.
At the same time we must understand that both in Poland and other neighbors of Russia there exist forces which use tragedies of the past in their own political interests, insistently repeating the theses on the . historical guilt of Russians before Poles, Lithuanians, Hungarians and so forth. , on the . well-known danger from the East. and such like.
Under such circumstances the responsibilities of those public structures, which understand that the historical memory of peoples is not an empty abstraction, must be increased. The today. s Europe is united not only by economic links and similarity of political ideals, but also by the common memory of the past. The common memory is the reflection of the common lot of European peoples in the national consciousness of each people. This equally concerns both East and West.
On of the most important tasks of . Memorial. is to break through ideological obstructions and national-patriotic blockages to the historical truth, to the truth which may not be replaced by any myths.
In particular, we believe that the idea of the historical guilt of one people before another is, at least, incorrect. It is high time to learn to distinguish between the concepts of guiltand responsibility.
The leaders of the Soviet Union who took, at first in the collusion with German Nazis and then quite independently, criminal decisions, which had tragic consequences for the peoples of the neighboring countries, in particular, for Poland, are undoubtedly guilty,in those concrete crimes which were committed relative to Poland and her citizens, as well as relative to other peoples of Europe. The concrete executors of the criminal orders are also guilty, although the extent of guilt for these people can be determined only in an individual investigation. However, the people, who are guilty in the crimes of 1939, are not alive, and it is too late to start the punishment.
But, as to the peoples of the Soviet Union and, in particular, those of Russia, the term guiltis not applicable to them, the more so when we mean new generations.
On the other hand, no one can liberate us, citizens of Russia, of absolutely any age, from our civil responsibilityfor those crimes, that were committed on behalf of our country, regardless of the date: sixty years ago or later.
The concept of the civil responsibility, shared by . Memorial. , denotes not only external and loud manifestation of the past sins, but the steady and systematic work for studying and comprehending the past; besides, it includes efforts to correct the consequences of the past sins, if it is possible. In the case of Poland our civil responsibility must be directed, first of all, to the decision of historical and legal problems resulted from the mass repressions on the territories grabbed by the USSR in 1939 . 40 or controlled by the Soviet Union after WW2.
It is impossible to raise from the dead the victims, or to cure those who lost their health, or to recompense torture and degrading treatment, or to put right the distorted lives of millions of convicts and the exiled.
But we have the duty of memory before all victims of the repressions. We must not permit their names to be forgotten, every victim must be named.
We have a debt before those, who are still living: Russia must recompense their sufferings, at least in the symbolic sums, which are given to the victims of political repressions among Russian citizens.
And, finally, we have a debt before future generations: we must find the truth on the past and tell the truth to our children.
. Memorial. works in the above-stated directions from the moment of its birth. Our many-year partner in this work is the Warsaw center . Karta. , and jointly we have obtained not so insignificant results. Certainly, we ought to do more, and we are happy to have like-minded colleagues in Poland. We are sure that this collaboration should be continued. We regard out joint work as a contribution to creating normal relations between our peoples.
Directorate of Moscow . Memorial.
Moscow, 14 September 1999
Point of view